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With Nathaniel Hackett off to Buffalo to join Doug Marrone, the Syracuse football program needs a new offensive coordinator. So who are our top options?
After quickly replacing the departed Doug Marrone with Scott Shafer, Syracuse is now faced with a much more difficult decision: replacing offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. More so than the Shafer hire, the next offensive coordinator may end up being the move that makes or breaks the post-Marrone era. The Orange offense was FUN to watch this year, and by most accounts it was fun to be a part of, too. SU -- for once -- was one of the most talked about teams in the country at various points, and mostly because of the high-powered offense. Now how do we make that continue?
By no means is the following an exhaustive list of candidates, and I'm sure there's plenty of room for other entries. But let's consider this at least a preliminary set of candidates. Some are better than others, so let's all play nice when disagreeing with each other about why they are or aren't the best man for the job, respectively...
John Reagan, Offensive Coordinator, Rice
What Rice lacked in raw talent in 2012, it made up for with superior offensive play-calling, all courtesy of coordinator and Syracuse alumnus John Reagan. The Owls scored nearly 32 points per game while running 1,026 plays from scrimmage (just three less than Syracuse), en route to a seven-win season. As a Syracuse grad and an Upstate New York native, Reagan would be able to hit the ground running on the recruiting trail, bringing the same familiarity with the area Marrone did upon his arrival back in 2009. That offense is also a huge selling point, leaving little-to-no transition from Hackett's regime.
Jeff Tedford, Former Head Coach, California
In his 11 years at Cal, Tedford turned the Golden Bears program completely around, becoming a major factor in the Pac-10/12 and on the recruiting trail. While his area of expertise -- out west -- isn't necessarily what we're looking for, Tedford still brings an impressive resume of offensive players along with him. At one point or another, Tedford coached college and pro stars like Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Aaron Rodgers and Marshawn Lynch, and in his time at Cal, the school saw 40 NFL Draft choices (eight in the first round). In a college football environment that has recruits searching for their quickest route to the NFL, Tedford certainly has a pedigree worth selling them.
David Walker, Running Backs Coach, Indianapolis Colts
Former Orange(men) running back David Walker's a name that's been rising among the coaching ranks; and rightfully so. After his playing days, he spent a decade back at Syracuse coaching running backs, before moving on to Pitt and then the Colts. You want a guy that knows the northeast, and also helps carry on the glorious tradition of excellent Syracuse halfbacks? Walker is most certainly your man. Hell, he may even help bring back the number 44 (has to count for something, no?).
Brian Scott, Offensive Coordinator, Old Dominion
Scott, a quarterback at Miami from 1995-1999 is a name that's bound to be on a FBS sideline sooner or later, so why not make it ours? Focusing on western recruiting right now, it may not look like a fit on paper, but Scott's also had plenty of experience coaching and recruiting in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The big reason he should be a target, however, is that Monarchs offense he's led. Under his leadership, Old Dominion scored 45.2 points per game last year (!!!) and only once did they score less than 31. They also had nearly 550 yards of total offense per game. Only three FBS teams came close to that in 2012. We should probably give Scott a call.
Mario Cristobal, Former Head Coach, Florida International
We considered him for the head coach job (or at least those of us here at TNIAAM did), so I think it's only fair that the former FIU coach gets a look here too. Over the course of his career, Cristobal's specialty has been on the offensive side of the ball, and again, he has experience recruiting both Florida and the Tri-State area. Of course, all of this may be null and void if the 'Canes hire him soon, but we'll see what happens.
Ed. Note: Cross Cristo off the list...
Calvin Magee, Co-Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs Coach, Arizona
Seeing another major-conference school's name next to Magee may scare folks off at first, but hear me out. Magee's spent a ton of time coaching up in our neck of the woods, with extended stays at Pitt, West Virginia and Michigan. We're all excited about Zach Allen being a dual-threat, right? We're also excited about having a legitimate running game, too. Magee has coached Pat White, Steve Slaton, Denard Robinson, Ray Graham and more. His current team, the Wildcats, were seventh in the nation in total offense this year -- mostly on the shoulders of star (embattled) halfback Ka'Deem Carey. The only reason I believe he'd be interested in leaving is that his role as the CO-offensive coordinator. With a full role, and a return to his old stomping grounds, Syracuse could be a perfect fit.
Kenny Edenfield, Offensive Coordinator, Troy
Edenfield, a Troy alumnus, led the 11th-ranked offense in the FBS in 2012. Surprised? Don't be. The Trojans have finished in the top 20 in total offense twice in the three years Edenfield's been at the helm. And this season's edition -- running just 966 plays in total -- was an incredibly efficient machine. Troy managed 22 more yards per game than Syracuse while running 60 less plays in total, with less talented players. Now, it'll take a lot to pry Edenfield from his alma mater, but I have a feeling a lot of others believe that too. We'll need a better recruiting presence down south as we move to the ACC, and Edenfield, who's spent his entire coaching career in the Gulf, could be a fresh new perspective.
Any winners here? Any more names we should be looking out for? Let's discuss in the comments.